Star Wars Battlefront reboots the sci-fi, fantasy first-person shooter franchise just in time for the revival of the film franchise. With the best graphics and sound effects to date, the game attempts to hook players in without the help of a narrative campaign.
If there was ever a proper time to reboot the iconic Star Wars Battlefront series, we are living in it right now. A new Star Wars film hits theaters in just over a month and the whole world is swept up in the franchise’s hype train. The timing is perfect for a massive AAA video game based on the sci-fi movies, and the return to a franchise that many gamers already know and love seems like a no-brainer. Despite the formula for success, Star Wars Battlefront isn’t without its flaws.
For those concerned with Star Wars Battlefront’s narrative, there isn’t really much of one at all. The game takes a similar approach to Titanfall and a few other recent first-person shooters and focuses mainly on co-op and competitive multiplayer, rather than a narrative campaign. The game features plenty of missions to tackle offline against AI and each one does have a (very) little story of its own that fits into the Star Wars universe, but this game doesn’t attempt to rehash any of the old films or provide a new cohesive story.
The lack of a narrative may be a little disappointing to fans of the film franchise, but even without one Battlefront still does an amazing job of making players feel like they are a part of the galaxy far, far away. The game’s visuals, music, and sound effects are all spot on and perfectly capture the atmosphere of the Star Wars franchise. When a commander calls in on the radio and warns that Skywalker has been spotted in my area, it is legitimately terrifying (from a stormtropper’s perspective, obviously). From the sounds of the lightsabers to the impact of an AT-AT stomping across the map, this game perfectly embodies the Star Wars experience both from the perspective of the powerful heroes or villains and the grunt foot soldiers on both sides of the battlefield. Unfortunately, the imbalance of the Star Wars universe is part of what holds the game back in many ways.
With no real narrative to keep players engaged, Battlefront obviously needs to bring some top notch multiplayer to the table. Before jumping online, the single player missions offer an entertaining tutorial and a fun way to practice in a low-stakes environment. The Survival mode is also a fun break from the competitive multiplayer modes. The tutorial and missions offer some fun challenges that will keep obsessive players coming back to try and beat their high score or fastest run, but at the end of the day this game is all about the multiplayer.
When it comes to multiplayer game modes, the options are not lacking. Although the quality and replayability of some of these modes is debatable, there are nine variations to keep players busy. The modes offer a great variety of experiences from the typical FPS “most kills wins” mode in Blast to full-on 20 vs 20 in Walker Assault. Some modes focus on team strategy, like Droid Run, while others are all about fun and spectacle, like Heroes vs Villains.
Some of the problems in Battlefront will be masked by fun and novelty in the first ten or fifteen hours of gameplay, but players who want to stick with this game for the long haul may start to grow annoyed with the game’s balance issues and map design. As predicted, any mode that allows heroes and villains to make an appearance is filled with ridiculous balance problems. This seems like it should be a no-brainer – obviously Luke Skywalker can take a stormtrooper down without blinking or Darth Vader can force choke a rebel from yards away – but the one-sided nature of these fights can become frustrating for players looking for a competitive, strategic experience. The obvious solution is to stay away from these less serious modes if you don’t enjoy them, but the heroes and villains are a major part of the game and cannot be ignored.
After clocking plenty of hours on every map in the game, it’s also a little disappointing that the maps don’t offer more opportunities for strategy. Each planet is beautiful and features amazing textures and lighting, but everything it has in atmosphere it lacks in functionality. Many opportunities for cover don’t work as intended and many maps feature wide open fields that players are forced to run through at the risk of being sniped. The maps definitely have their strengths as well, and we’re confident that these issues could be ironed out in patches or DLC packs.
The use of vehicles and the flight sim mode do offer some great variety to the usual FPS gameplay. Hardcore flight sim fans will be quick to point out that many ships pilot much more similarly than they should, but this is unlikely to be a problem for the average gamer. Flying takes a while to get used to, but there’s no denying that piloting a Tie Interceptor or just about any other ship in the game is guaranteed to make players of any age feel like a kid again.
Like many of the game’s competitors, Star Wars Battlefront’s main strategy for keeping players invested is a leveling system that unlocks new weapons, perks, and aesthetic changes over time. Players earn credits for each match played and can cash in the currency to upgrade their load outs. This is a little frustrating early on, as the most experienced players have all the best weapons and perks, but the system forces players to tackle one new option at a time. Although options are limited, new players don’t need to worry about being overwhelmed by a full arsenal of weapons from the start.
Star Wars Battlefront may not offer unlimited entertainment for years to come or the best environment for fiercely competitive gamers, but there’s no denying that it does a brilliant job of giving Star Wars fans a chance to walk around and live in the iconic universe. A game like Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic may do a better job of expanding the lore, but Battlefront does the best job (to date) of giving gamers the opportunity to walk around in the movies’ settings.
Star Wars Battlefront is now available for PC, PS4, and Xbox One. Game Rant was provided a PS4 code for this review.